Amsterdam and Poland 2017

Day 14, Sat, June 17



We had a good breakfast in our hotel and gathered with the group and a local tour guide for a walking tour of the old town, Gdansk.  We passed a lot of interesting and lovely buildings, which I shall try to describe in some detail. 


About 80% of Gdansk was destroyed during World War II.  Gdansk, as well as all Poland has had a very interesting and sad history with wars with the Soviets, Prussians, the Nazis, and Austrians.  At one time Poland didn't even exist. After WWII, Communism took over until 1989. Gdansk has been beautifully restored.


Brama Zielona ( The Green Gate)

The Renaissance Green gate stands on the site of the most ancient gate in Gdansk, the Koga Gate. This gate served as the formal residence of the Polish monarchs, but was only used once for that purpose in its history. There are four arched passages through this gate and there is a symbol over each: the eagle of the Prussian Kings, and the emblems of Poland, Gdansk, and Royal Prussia.

 The gate was designed in the Mannerist style by the architect Johann Kramer from Gdansk, and built in 1564 – 1568. The former Polish President and symbol of Solidarity, Lech Walesa had his office in the Green Gate.


Dom Przyrodnikow

(The House of the Natural Science Society)

One of the first buildings that we stopped to admire was the House of the Natural Science Society, which is adjacent to Mary’s Gate. There were three interesting little statues in front, but as I write this I can find no reference to them on the Internet. This building is the first one on my model of the Long Embarkment. Click here to see model.

 Spichrze (The Granaries)

Across the river were the old Gdansk Granaries . The majority of granaries in Gdansk were destroyed as a result of war in 1945. The walls on three of them were preserved and after reconstruction in 1985 the  granaries became the main area for Polish Marine use.

 The granary on the left (in the photo) is the oldest one which is Gothic and named Olivean. Its name derived from the Cistercian Order from Oliwa. The middle granary is name Copper which comes from the type of goods once stored there. The granary on the far right is Baroque and named “ Panna” or “maiden” after a sculpture once standing on the top. Please click here to see my model.

Crane Gate

  Our next stop was the Crane Gate, which I photographed and commented on last night last night.  SEE MODEL


The large wheels, which were moved by men inside the wheel, like hamsters, raised and lowered the crane.  We walked through the Crane Gate and saw streets where the front porches survived and new buildings were built behind them.


BAZYLIKA MARIACKA  (St. Mary’s Cathedral)

Our next stop was St. Mary's Cathedral, which is the largest BRICK cathedral in the world. This huge Gothic church was started in the 14th century.  At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries the church was rebuilt and greatly enlarged. The final shape of the church was achieved over 150 years after initial building work had begun. At this time the side aisles and the stellar vaulted ceiling, the most beautiful in Poland, was added. The dimensions are very impressive – the nave is 344 ft long and 216 ft wide. St. Mary's Church is a triple-aisled hall church with a triple-aisled transept. Both the transept and the main nave are of similar width and height.

 It has been Catholic, then Lutheran and now Catholic again.  The inside was rather plain.  The wall had been painted with fresco at one time,t had been painted over decorated with  several master pieces  of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque painting. The high altar has a Gothic gold triptych, which was a popular format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards.  A triptych consists of a central panel and two hinged "wings". St. Mary’s triptych is from the 1510s, with the Coronation of the Virgin depicted in its central panel. 

 St. Mary's contains many relics from the past, including a wooden pieta and a 500 year old astronomical clock.

The major reconstruction was needed after the Second World War, but all of its valuable fittings were saved.e

The Royal Chapel of St. Mary's Church, adjacent to the Cathedral, was built by King Jan III Sobieski in Baroque style. Its sherbert-colored face with ivory columns stands out in contrast to the dark brick of the church itself.



Wielka Zbrojownia (The Great Armoury)

The Great Armoury was built in1600-09 on the medieval line of the city walls. A working arsenal until the 1800's, the armoury remains the finest example of Renaissance architecture in the city. It was designed by Opberghen and is the most impressive of his works in Gdańsk.

The well-like structure in front was used as an elevator to transport gunpowder and cannon balls from their storage place in the basement. The armoury was badly damaged in WWII and had to be completely rebuilt and its only in recent years that it has regained its former glory following a spell during which it even played host to a supermarket. It's now open as an art gallery and there's a smart wine bar on the ground floor.

Neptune Fountain

Further down the street we came to the Neptune fountain on Long Market, a few steps from the Artus Court. Neptune’s Fountain is a Mannerist monument cast in bronze in the city in 1615 but wouldn’t be installed for another 18 years.

Located by the palatial townhouses where Poland’s royalty would stay in Gdańsk, the fountain’s sculpture shows Neptune bowing his head slightly as a sign of deference.


This mansion, a symbol of the city's power in the 16th and 17th centuries, served as an exchange and as the seat of St. George and the brotherhoods of rich patricians. Founded as a meeting place for merchants and dignitaries, it was named after King Arthur, of Round Table fame, and hosted many a noble guest. Following a fire in 1841, it was given a more Gothic form, complete with ostentatious sculptures and paintings illustrating man's merits and vices. The court still plays an important part in public life today and is the scene of many receptions and meetings.


Our walk, which started with some rain and cool weather, took 2 hours.

The group then had an option to say in town on our own or go to Sopot which is a nearby beach.   We decided to stay in town and look for the buildings, gates, and towers of the model kits I have for Gdansk.



 We had a list of all of the models, and a map of their location. The Cow Gate is found next to what was once the ‘Butter Market’. Thought to have been built in the 14th century, the building was given a through redesign five hundred years later. This, miraculously almost survived the war, but not the town planners who arrived after. Clearly inspired by the ruins around them they chose to knock this place down, and rebuild it in something similar to its original form. This was a common practice after WWII where the new Polish authorities decided to recreate buildings from the end of the 18th century, before Gdańsk was partitioned rather than rebuild what had stood there in 1939. CLICK HERE TO SEE MY MODEL



This tower was erected on a square plan in 1361, for additional protection flanking the then southern fortifications of Gdańsk and the former shipyard areas (in today's Lastadia street).

After moving the outer belt of Gdańsk fortifications, the tower lost its current military significance. In the years 1570-1575 Paulus van der Horne rebuilt the building to a city prison for particularly dangerous criminals.. From 1865, the tower served as the main police detention center of the Main Town . 

During the Second World War, the tower was almost completely destroyed; it lost its roof, all the internal ceilings and the entire south-west corner . The building was reconstructed in 1968-1969.

In 1975, the tower was transferred to the seat of the then Office for Research and Documentation of Monuments of the Gdańsk Province and fulfilled its function as the seat of conservation services.

In 2014, the Anchor Tower was rented for purposes related to the activities of the organization that manages monthly magazines. NOTE THE SMALL DOOR ON THE LEFT SIDE - THE ONLY DOOR INTO THE BUILDING.   PLEASE VISIT MY MODEL

 Dwor Miejski (City Stables)

 One of the models that I had already made before the trip was of the old stables. It was a long building which now houses a hotel and several businesses.

 The corner tower, defending the southwest contact of the city walls, began to rise as early as in 1343, and in the 14th century the brewery was founded. Both of these buildings had only three walls in their original form, because they were open from the city.  The tower bearing the name Schultza (19th century Gdańsk painter, educator and lover of monuments) was found in the last quarter of the 14th century.

 The attached buildings were called the Municipal Court, which housed, among others, stables and city wagons.

 From 1616 to 1619, the urban builder Jan Strakowski used medieval walls as walls of newly built buildings and urban stables. They survived as a complex until the Napoleonic Wars, during which the various objects have undergone, unfortunate changes. At the beginning of the 20th century the municipal court became the seat of the Municipal fire brigade.

 In 1945 the roofs and vaults of the former stables were collapsed, as well as part of the brewery tower. The reconstruction of the entire complex began in 1959 and was carried out in stages over a dozen years. After reconstruction, all the objects were placed under the responsibility of the Polish Scouting Association. PLEASE VISIT MY MODEL.


 Golden Gate

We had lunch outside, in an Italian cafe facing one of the Golden Gate.  Kathleen had a pizza and I had gnocchi with shrimp, tomatoes and a few other interesting things. 

The Golden Gate designed by architect Abraham van den Block was built in 1612-14, but has been reconstructed and repainted many times throughout the years.

It is one of the most notable tourist attractions of the city. It  is located at one end of Long Embankment and forms a part of the old city fortifications.

Jacek Tower

Built at the end of the fourteenth century, the soaring tower owes its name to Saint Jacek Odrowąż, who was the first Polish Dominican to accept the invitation of  Duke Świętopełk Wielki in 1227 and founded a monastery in Gdańsk together with a group of brothers.

 The tower, measuring 118 high, was the tallest building of this type in Gdańsk and best prepared for defensive operations. 

For a time, the tower was described as a playful name "Kiek in die Koek" because from the top floors it was possible to observe the kitchen preparation in a nearby monastery. 

During the WWII, the roof was destroyed, some of the upper parts of the building suffered as well. After the repair, the look of the tower is in line with its configuration of 1556. PLEASE SEE MY MODEL


Kosciol Sw. Katarzyny  (St Catherine's Church)

 St. Catherine’s Church is the oldest church in Gdańsk, dating back to the 14th century. Originally, St. Catherine’s was a Protestant church in a city which has endured Teutonic times, the Prussian empire, Hanseatic times, the Free City of Danzig and the era of communist rule. Since 1945 however, it has been used solely as a Roman Catholic church. Of real significance, it has the world’s first ever pulsar clock, which uses radio pulses from pulsars to keep the time.



The Great Mill was built in the mid-14th century as one of the most important Teutonic investments in Gdańsk. The mill was located between the arms of the Raduni Canal. The mill was driven by 12 water circles (six on each side), and had a huge attic equipped with a warehouse for grain and floated flour.

Malt barley was also processed in the mill in such quantities that local needs were met and there were opportunities to export it also.

The Great Mill was also regarded as a strategic object and, for example, the successful anti-Teutonic uprising of February 1454 began with the acquisition of this building.

At the beginning of the 17th century a huge bakery oven was added, a little later the drive wheels of the facility was expanded to the sides of the building. There were up to 18 bucket wheels used.

In the 19th  century steam turbines were installed which replaced with electric motors. The mill functioned until the end of World War II.

Dower Mlynarzy (Manor of Millers)

One of the most beautiful half timbered buildings in Gdansk is The Manor of Millers, which is located on the so-called islet – a spur which forms the arms of the forking Radunia chanel.  It was erected in 1831. Due to its poor technical condition at the end of the 19th century it was demolished, then newly erected on the initiative of history enthusiasts. In 1945, it was destroyed. In 1997, thanks to the preserved documentation, it was re-created.

Kathleen  found a park bench across the steet on which to rest while I walked further to see the Old Town Hall.


Ratusz Staromiejski  (Old Town Hall)

This marvelous 16th-century Renaissance building was once the home, the office of Hevelius in his role as an old town Council Lord. The former headquarters of the Council of Gdansk, the Old Town Hall served as the headquarters of the Soviet Army during the days of World War II, probably because it was practically the only building left standing in the city at the time. Today the building is open to the public and has become the focus of much creativity. Concerts are held upstairs, and the suburban Baltic Sea cultural center now has their offices there. There is also a cellar restaurant, and a good bookshop on the ground floor. PLEASE SEE MY MODEL


Kosciol sw. Jozefa  ( St. Joseph’s Church)

 I wandered to the back side of the Old Town Hall and found an interesting small church - St. Joseph's. The construction of the St. Joseph’s Church took place in the years 1482-96  It was intended to build a much larger church,  but due to limited funds available construction was abandoned.

The Carmelites of Gdańsk were severely affected by reformation. The monastery was destroyed. In the middle of 16th century, only two monks were in the monastery.

In the 17th century the situation of Gdansk's Carmelites stabilized, but in 1678 it fell victim to a Protestant devastation. The Gdansk Lutherans destroyed the monastic interiors. 

Successive devastating deeds took place during the Napoleonic Wars. The monastery area was then used as a hospital for lepers.

Dramatic events took place in the spring of 1945. The church was burned by soldiers of the Red Army. Dozens of civilians burned alive inside.


 About 4:00,  we returned to our room where Kathleen took her usual nap and it wasn't long before I joined her in a deep sleep. 


We had made dinner reservations in a famous restaurant months ago- Goldwasser.  We had read about it and saw it on a travel program on TV.  They serve a liquor know as Goldwasser which is 40% alcohol with flakes of gold in it.  We were tempted to try it, but abstained. 


The Goldwasser is located on the Long Embankment waterfront and is on my model of the waterfront.  We knew exactly where to go.   It was a very lovely place, with a number of small dining rooms.  We were seated in one with 4 tables and for a long time we were the only ones in that room, but it soon filled up.  We shared a delicious salad. Kathleen had duck breast with plum sauce, caramelized carrots puree, and I had cod fish with mashed potatoes and spinach in a cream sauce.  It was a large serving and I could not eat it all.  For dessert we shared a cheese cake with a wonderful orange sauce. It was a wonderful meal in a great place.  Next time we go to Gdansk we might try the Goldwasser :)

 Day 1 - Amsterdam

Day 2 - Amsterdam

Day 3 - Amsterdam

Day 4 - Amsterdam

Day 5 - Warsaw

Day 6 - Warsaw

Day 7 - Warsaw

Day 8 - Czestochowa and Kracow

Day 9 - Krakow

Day 10 - Auschwitz and Wroclaw

Day 11 - Wroclaw

Day 12 - Poznan and Torun

Day 13 - Torun and Gdansk

Day 14 - Gdansk

Day 15 coming soon